Less than a third of learners in the Eastern Cape who enrolled in school in twelve years ago will be writing their matric this year.

According to the reply to a written question I asked the MEC for Education, Mandla Makupula, 74% of learners who entered the system in 2001, did not make it to matric in 2012. Of the 26% (or 72 354 children) who did make it all the way to matric last year, only 14% (or 39 443) of the total cohort actually passed matric. In 2011, the cohort loss from Grade 1, in 2001, was 76%. Of the total cohort only 13% passed their final exams. Ongoing turmoil in the Department of Education leaves little hope that the 2002 cohort will fare any better in 2013 than their peers did in the past two years. For the reply, click here:

Reply to question 168 of 2013

These alarming statistics is another indictment on the how the education system in the Eastern Cape is far below the national average and how it is failing our children, especially in the poor, disadvantaged areas. We are cultivating a province of school dropouts with little opportunity of becoming successful job-seekers and entrepreneurs. The national dropout rate over 12 years of schooling was 52% in 2012, and 49% in 2011.

While reasons for children drop out of school can be attributed to poverty, teenage pregnancy, lack of interest in schooling and repetition of grades, social problems should not deter us from making our schools places of hope and places of nurture and a change for a better future.

What is needed is a strong and effective school leadership, employing quality teachers who can instil a love for their subjects in learners, developing discipline and confidence, providing a safe environment and meaningful subject combinations which will give learners the necessary tools to gain decent employment.

The DA believes that a core minimum of resources must be guaranteed for each school. When in government, we will take steps including linking schooling to Child Support Grants, to reduce the drop-out rate. We will also ensure that the school nutrition programme is available to learners all the way to matric.

Structures have to be monitored and mended not just in the Department of Education but also to the Department of Social Development.

The DA refuses to let the future of so many children go down the drain. Education is the ticket out of poverty. No more pupils should be allowed to fall through the cracks.